AMAZON BOAT TRIP – JUNE 3-13, 2019
We arrived to Manaus around 2am where we were warmly greeted by Earl and the boat crew who helped us with our bags and to the bus. After a quick 20min drive to the boat, we were served a full meal and shown our rooms. One thing that sticks out in my mind from this day of traveling is the kindness and joyful hearts of all who traveled together. We came from different parts of the United States in order to come together to serve our God, doing small acts of kindness to hopefully make big impacts on the hearts of those we encounter.
After a short night’s rest (4am-8am), we got up and had coffee and breakfast together. The first day was full of separating and packing medications into individual bags for easier dispensing. In the afternoon, Earl took us to the top deck for a meeting to discuss the specifics of where we were at, where we were going, and who would be in charge of what when we arrived to the first village. As soon as we arrived and got the boat settled, we were into our new roles immediately. There was a lot of great teamwork and together we all did our jobs to help serve and see many patients that first afternoon. A beautiful sunset adorned the sky, and I knew for sure that it was God showing me I was in the right place, and that we are all connected.
We visited a village church service and Pastor Francisco did an amazing job guiding everyone through a service I would equate to an American VBS service filled with interactive songs with lots of clapping, hand motions, and laughter. This is really the place where God shines through the words and smiles from Pastor Francisco; what a charismatic speaker and singer. We had a fantastic experience which will not soon be forgotten. Our God is known wherever you are, and through acts of kindness and compassion, we are able to build a connection with people we may never see again thank you Jesus! J-E-S-U-S, de Jesus!
If you’ve never woken up to a rooster (or 5) crowing, you’re missing out. I encountered this and I woke up smiling today. After breakfast and coffee, we headed up for our daily devotion among the boat crew. We are visiting an area where many are poor and without a lot of conveniences we have in America, and so it was very fitting to discuss rich vs. poor. The consensus was, we should be using things and loving people. It is possible to get these confused, and when that happens, people become unhappy. Happiness lies within being useful, sharing what you have, and using your worldly wealth to help others in need. The problem with wealth isn’t about having it; it is how we use it.
Every person has been so selfless who came to work on the boat, by taking turns with doing dishes, sharing supplies (mosquito bracelets and bug spray are a must have for anyone thinking to come on the trip), sharing candy, jumping in and out of jobs within boat to give the other a break, and just truly being there for one another. It’s a beautiful thing and a great feeling to be able to do something small for another person and to take care of each other.
Devotions were great again, and the Kitchen Quartet sang a beautiful solo for us. We discussed that loving people means to love them at all times. Love does not keep track of wrongs. There are a lot of “even if” moments we need to be cognizant of. Even if someone doesn’t apologize, forgive them anyway. The singing and discussion really puts us in the spirit to give our hearts to the people of the communities.
We have learned patience on this trip; maybe the most is to be patient with ourselves. We have to be patient with our own learning (language barriers), in order to help others. We sometimes want results right now, but it is all in God’s timing and with his help that we have been able to explain to these people who don’t speak our language about how much God loves them. We study and learn some Portuguese every morning on this boat in an effort to have a way to connect and teach.
Please see the medical report for totals of patients treated. We also gave out 77 pairs of reading glasses, countless sunglasses, clothes, sandals, and gift bags filled with toiletries and tooth care products.
In San Sebastian we walked about 1-2 miles to the greenhouse from the boat. We were able to see what they are growing there, and the chickens they were raising for eggs. The team worked in the garden for a while, but in the scorching heat, several breaks were taken. They also have an area where they train missionaries and have them stay on the property. We had the chance to purchase handmade floor mats and kitchen towels from one of the boat staff and her mother, as well as handmade beaded bracelets and necklaces from another lady who works with the mission here in San Sebastian. In the morning we will make the long journey back to Manaus and then back to our families. I know I have missed my husband and kids!
In the world we live in, we want things right now… Including things we ask from God. So often we want a direct answer, or a quick response to our prayer. Sometimes the walk needs to be slow and we need to wait. I waited almost 4 years before coming on this trip. I guess I wasn’t ready to commit, or maybe I just didn’t trust enough. I needed to get my heart and my head in the right place, not depending on anything except for God to guide me, help me, and take care of me. He’s always done this, but in my own selfish eyes I believed my choices were the things guiding me. If there’s one thing I can tell you from the experience I had here, before coming here, and definitely after leaving here is, don’t be scared to leave things in God’s hands. He will always be there. Amen.
Amazon and the Boat Tips & Things to bring
Face cleaning wipes, mosquito bands and spray, anti-itch cream, ear plugs if you are a light sleeper because you hear everything on the boat and the walls are very thin, sneakers & flip flops with good tread as the boat is often slippery and wet, your own water bottle to refill (stainless steel is a good option to keep it cold), propel packets to add to water, your own snacks for your room and food that could help settle your stomach if needed (granola bars, cheese its, gum, mints, candy), bar soap vs. liquid, extra shampoo and conditioner (you will shower more often than you think because of the heat and humidity, so two travel size would be better than just one), and extra underwear if you don’t feel comfortable having it washed with the group clothing and by another person which is then put into a basket where people sort through to find their clean clothes.